"I Heard Your Company Might Be for Sale."
I talked to a colleague and friend of mine not long ago, with a masters degree in marketing and has a good history of success. One day we were discussing the plight of a certain struggling long-running family business since the 1930's (which we both knew really well), which was then bought out in an offer from a lawyer with his own dough -- but unfortunately didn't know the product well. He just saw a company struggling a little, and jumped on it for an easy buy. Interestlingly, what followed were a series of missteps that delivered blows to the company's performance even more. One of them was hiring a rookie CEO who knew the product, but was unfortunately inept at running a small business, which is what the company was with 200 employees. After the company dwindled down to about half of that, with much of the damage happening during the frazzled CEO's tenure (with his job hanging by a thread), it all can probably be traced back to a moment in time -- when the company was suddenly for sale.
The question is, will this company be for sale again, or crash and burn like the Hindenburg when it's too late? Or heaven forbid, competitors get wind of the company's shortcomings, and start paying insiders for intelligence (which they're probably doing already -- almost every company has moles).
It's an important fact to keep in mind even in marketing, that every business is for sale at any given time. The only thing that isn't known is the price, and timing, which has a lot to do with performance. The owner may not know it yet, and for the moment, one might think, "no way -- my business is not for sale". But one day, the right person with the right amount of money comes in off the street and makes you an offer, and suddenly -- you can bank on it -- your mind will change.
So why should marketers keep this in mind? It sure does shake things up, when in a given tight market share, businesses get purchased. The ride could become either bumpier or smoother when the competitor now has a different face than before. Some things are great to know beforehand, if possible. Therefore, constantly gathering as much information as possible about your competitors is always crucial, in any marketing strategy.
Since a business is always for sale however, that business should have an objective taking that into consideration. Additionally, they should give serious thought about whether the goal is to prolong it as much as possible -- because they're doing well, or when it's time to realize it's time to sell to someone else, and possibly avoid having everyone come to work only to find out the banks had taken seige and locked the doors.
Looking back at the company, it just seems that when the bait struggles, the sharks start to circle.